By Peter Blucher
Samson Ryan was enjoying the best moment of his burgeoning AFL career last weekend when he seemed to be upstaged by his mother and his girlfriend.
Ryan had nine possessions, five clearances, four score involvements, five inside 50s, 29 hit-outs and 12 hit-outs to advantage as Richmond reignited their spluttering season with a 24-point MCG win over premiers Geelong.
It was the third and best win of the young giant’s nine-game career and came in front of a crowd of 58,141 in the prime-time Friday night slot.
But when Channel 7 commentator Brian Taylor visited the Richmond rooms post-game for his customary “Roaming Brian” segment Ryan suddenly found himself much the lesser member of the family.
First, his mother Belinda introduced herself to Taylor, and said of her son “he’s gorgeous … and tall like his Dad …. What else do you want me to say”.
She told how it was the family’s first visit to Melbourne this year, and the first time they’d met Ryan’s Melbourne-based girlfriend Lily.
Ryan, called into the chat, did his best to focus on the football, describing it as “the best result ever” and detailing how everything had come together for the Tigers with back-to-back wins over West Coast and Geelong to end a five-game losing streak.
But quickly the focus turned to Lily, who told how proud she was of the former Sherwood player, and how nice it was to have the Ryan family in Melbourne.
And when she asked by Taylor what she thought of Belinda Lily produced the line of the night: “She lovely …. plastered but lovely”.
It was a night Ryan will never forget, and not just because of the dressing histrionics. It was the second week in a row he’d played a key role in a Richmond win, but the first against a genuine top side.
Leading the ruck in the absence of co-captain Toby Nankervis, he looked every bit an AFL player and won huge praise for excellent work in the ruck.
Indeed, his 12 hit-outs to advantage was better than the game average for each of the best ruckmen in the League this year – Fremantle’s Sam Darcy (11.9), North’s Todd Goldstein (11.6), Gold Coast’s Jarrod Witts (11.4) and Carlton’s Marc Pittonet (11.1).
It even better the 10.5 average of Nankervis, who is tipped to return from injury this week.
Ryan, drafted by Richmond with pick #40 in the 2020 National Draft, has come a long way since he went without a possession on debut against St.Kilda in Round 15 last year and was overlooked at selection in Round 1 this year.
He’s been a fixture in the top side in 2023 and shown enormous potential not just in the ruck but as a marking target up forward.
He’s had a crash course, too, in the enormous popularity of the AFL in Melbourne, with the the crowd on Friday night of 58,141 was his fourth on 50,000-plus after he played in front of 85,241 on a Friday night at the MCG against Collingwood in Round 3 and 83,985 in the Monday Night Anzac Day Eve game against Melbourne at the MCG in Round 6.
In other Queensland news from Round 8 of the AFL season, Lions co-captain Harris Andrews was the only Queenslander to poll in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year award, picking up one vote in his side’s come-from-behind win over Essendon at the Gabba for his 19 possessions and 10 one-percenters.
Will Ashcroft had 28 possessions from just 71% game time, Dayne Zorko 25 possessions, Keidean Coleman 20 possessions and Eric Hipwood 14 possessions and a goal.
Sydney ruckman Tom Hickey played his first game of the season, picking up 14 possessions and 21 hit-outs in a loss to Fremantle at the SCG. Sadly, he reported delayed concussion symptoms and will not be available this week.
Gold Coast’s Alex Davies had perhaps the best game of his 20-game career, registering career highs in possessions (20), clearances (7) and tackles (6) in his side’s 70-point win over West Coast in Perth.
And Adelaide’s Ben Keays had 17 possessions and a goal in the Crows’ 52-point win over St. Kilda, along the way becoming the 31st Queenslander to top 2000 AFL possessions.